In an effort to gain an unfair competitive advantage in Little League Baseball, some individuals have engaged in the practice of “bat rolling,” a means altering a bat through a process of heating and compression. Bat rolling expedites the time by which a bat is broken-in thereby altering the standard performance of the bat such as increasing the exit speed of a hit ball. According to an online discussion amongst umpires about the practice, “the compression accelerates the breaking in of the material and loosens it up as well, particularly composite fibers, thus increasing the COR of the bat.”
Upon discovering that some in Rhode Island District 4 (RID4) Little League have engaged in the practice, District Administrator Ron Lopes today affirmed that bats altered through this process are prohibited in RID4 for recreational and tournament competition.
“Any process by which a baseball bat is altered or tampered with, such as “rolling”, by an entity other than the manufacturer is prohibited for competition in Rhode Island District 4,” said RID4 District Administrator Ron Lopes. “Bats discovered to have been rolled will be immediately removed from the dugout and game. Managers of those tournament teams caught using bats that have been ‘rolled’ will face immediate disciplinary action and the team penalized.”
Spotting a Rolled Bat
There are a number of ways to identify a bat that has been rolled. These include visible roll marks or spider-like webbing across the bat – such webbing can be felt if touched – and when assessing the bat with a bat ring, the bats tend to take on an oblong shape. Altered bats may also possess dents, cracks or other imperfections.
Upon discovering the alleged use of “rolled bats” in local Little Leagues in RID4, the District implemented new regulations to identify such bats and to discourage their use.
Each league will provide bat rings to umpires who will check suspect bats. Bat rings are small, circular devices that measure the width of a bat barrel. According to Little League International, bats in the Majors and Minors Divisions cannot be more than 33 inches in length; nor more than 2⅝ inches in diameter, and if wood, not less than fifteen-sixteenths (15/16) inches in diameter (7/8 inch for bats less than 30″) at its smallest part.
If an umpire or district official sees or feels any dents, cracks or imperfections in a bat, it will immediately be removed from a game and the dugout without question or appeal. The manager of the offending team will be subject to removal from the game and could be suspended for the remainder of the tournament. In addition, if a manager is found to have knowingly allowed the use of a rolled bat, the district will file a formal complaint with that manager’s league with a copy sent to the Little League Regional Office in Bristol. Such an infraction could jeopardize a manager’s future managerial opportunities.
“The spirit and purpose of Little League Baseball and Softball is to provide kids the opportunity to play and develop a love for the game while instilling in players the virtues of courage, character and loyalty,” added Lopes. “There is no place in Little League for altered bats or other actions that could compromise player safety to gain a competitive edge. I strongly encourage all leagues in District 4 to conduct regular – if not daily – audits of their players’ bats to ensure that they are in compliance with this common-sense regulation that seeks to level the playing field.”